Speaking tonight on KCRW's Which Way, L.A.?, Sheriff Lee Baca enaged in a spirited debate about the jails with the ACLU Legal Director Peter Eliasberg, with journalist Celeste Fremon (and host Warren Olney) providing the more skeptical viewpoints. Baca made some news I think in his final answer, telling Olney that with all the recent controversy about deputies' abuses of inmates that he would consider the longstanding practice of assigning rookie deputies fresh out of the academy to several years of county jail duty before they get to work on the streets. "Now is the time to look at a two-track model,” Baca said, surprising both of the journalists, who expected the usual answer.
History repeats: Concern about an abusive culture among L.A. County sheriff's deputies never seems to be resolved. In 1999, the Times reported in depth on gang-like cliques of deputies who preyed on suspects and prisoners and got tattoos to display their allegiance to the "gangs," which had names like the Grim Reapers, the Pirates and the Rattlesnakes. One of the tattooed deputies named then, Paul Tanaka, is the top sheriff's official named by Baca to look into the latest allegations.
Photo of Twin Towers jail: LA Observed